Brooks Jensen Arts

Every Picture Is a Compromise

Lessons from the Also-rans

Most photography websites show the photographer's very best work. Wonderful. But that's not the full story of a creative life. If we want to learn, we'd better pay attention to the images that aren't "greatest hits" and see what lessons they have to offer. Every picture is a compromise — the sum of its parts, optical, technical, visual, emotional, and even cosmic – well, maybe not cosmic, but sometimes spiritual. Success on all fronts is rare. It's ok to learn from those that are not our best.

This is a series about my also-rans, some of which I've been able to improve at bit (i.e., "best effort"), none of which I would consider my best. With each there are lessons worth sharing, so I will.

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What I saw that I liked:

Clump of grasses and reflection. Cliché, I know, but I sort like these opportunities.

What I don't like in the picture:

Step #1 is composed; Step #2 is focus. Do I get credit for at least one of these? Guess not.

What I learned (yet again):

In the old days, we just pressed the mechanical shutter releast button and the action happened instantaneously. But that doesn't work anymore. Now we have to pause for just a fraction of a second for all the 1's and 0's in our image making computers to do their thing — including locking the focus. Without that slight pause, the shutter can fire before the focus is achieved. I know this. I've practiced this. And yes, sometimes I forget it an ruin a perfectly good cliché.

2nd Chances: What I might try next

Missing focus is an unrecoverable error. Unless you make a print the size of a postage stamp.